Jesus was Caesar – Words and Wonders

Extracts from the book «Jesus was Caesar»

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten

© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands

back to summary / content
Words and Wonders

p. 165–170 (original German Edition), = p. 169-174(English Edition)

In the previous chapter, ‘Crux’, we determined that Jesus was not crucified, and that a cross had indeed played the main role in Antonius’ presentation during the cremation of Caesar: the tropaeum. In that context we also saw that structures, requisites, and names correspond—mutatis mutandis. We have been induced to advance the hypothesis that the Gospels are a vita of Caesar sui generis. In spite of amazing parallels this has not been proven as yet.

We thus want to pick up the thread where we left it in Chapter II, ‘Vitae Parallae’. There we had established that during the siege of Corfinium Caesar drove out the hostile commander who occupied the city; parallel to that, Jesus drove an unclean spirit out of a possessed person in Capharnaum. Both ‘occupied’ and ‘possessed’ are the same in Latin: obsessus.

Now we first want to test the parallels we found and see if they yield any constants; with the next siege we must find the next ‘possessed’.

The Gerasene Demoniac

A year after crossing the Rubicon and besieging Corfinium, Caesar crossed the turbulent Ionian Sea in winter with just a few ships, and landed near the Ceraunic Cliffs where he dared the unbelievable: even though outnumbered, from the mountains he laid siege to all the troops of Pompeius, who controlled the coast.331 This was not very successful, as history records it, because Pompeius drew an impenetrable line of defense. Both sides suffered greatly and after months of great exertion and enormous fortification and entrenchment, Caesar finally had to give up his position which had become untenable.

If our parallels hold up, we should soon find Jesus encountering the next ‘possessed’ person, this time an unbridled one staying on the other side of the stormy sea

And lo and behold: Jesus and his disciples cross the stormy sea with a number of ships and land in the country of the Gerasenes (or Gergesenes or Gadarenes, depending on the manuscript) just as Caesar did in that of the Ceraunians. There they deal with a ‘possessed person’ who is ‘many’ and named ‘Legion’. He does not allow himself to be restrained and breaks the chains that bind him, just as Pompeius’ legions repeatedly broke the siege of Caesar and his troops.

Here there are also many striking linguistic parallels—Gerasenes/Ceraunians—now and then with similar morphological transformations as with obsessus: the possessed in the Jesus story remains in the ‘tombs’, in the monumenta, the besieged Pompeius in his entrenchment, in the munimenta. Even Matthew’s variation (8:28) which speaks of two demoniacs instead of one, finds its counterpart in Caesar and Pompeius who de facto besieged each other.

Even the ‘swine’—in the Gospels, ‘there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding’ (Mk. 5:11)—are also found in Caesar’s story with insignificant phonetic variations: ‘farm livestock that came from Epirus in abundance…’336. Here too, two easily mistaken words: porcus and pecus, swine and farm livestock (which include swine). This surely was an understandable mistake because Caesar’s soldiers were suffering from such famine that they ate any animal, and eventually they began to dig for roots like unclean animals; from a root called chara they made, besides soup, also bread and ran towards the Pompeians throwing it triumphantly and full of contempt.337 When Pompeius saw this bread he cried out: ‘What kind of beasts must we fight?’ Thêria—actually means small animals, in the sense of wild unclean animals, beasts. What he meant was, because of the fodder, ‘What pigs.’ Mk. 5:13: ‘And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine’. Into the swine: choirus. What appears phonetically and optically as a mix of chara and thêria.

As with Gaul/Galilee, as well as Corfinium/Capharnaum, similar names and requisites appear within similar structures and sequences. So, we want to see if the parallel sequencing continues.

Jesus walks on the sea

Due to a lack of ships, Caesar was only able to transport approximately half of his troops across the sea. He sent the ships back to Brundisium (modern Brindisi) and commanded Antonius to follow with the rest of the troops and their equipment. Antonius hesitated, however, because of the weather and the cruising enemy fleet. Desperate, Caesar slipped, alone and incognito, onto a small boat during the night to help bring his men across. Using the current of the river which flowed into the sea to his advantage, he wanted to glide across the breakers. However, when in the night the off-shore wind dropped and a strong breeze arose from the sea, the current collided with the sea surge and forced the boat back; the helmsman despaired. At that moment Caesar revealed himself and said: ‘Do not fear, you sail Caesar in your boat, and Caesar’s luck sails with us!’ At first it helped and everyone rowed with double the effort. In the end however, he reluctantly had to give up. Later his men reproached him when they heard what had happened.

This famous anecdote also appears in the Gospels in a slightly different form: Jesus walks upon the sea:

    ‘And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not…’ (Mark 6:45-51).

Here too, the names are similar: Bethsaida/Brentesion. The same motive: ‘while he sent away the people.’ The same journey during the night, alone, unknown, in a small barge, the rowing, the wind, the fear, revealing himself, the encouraging words: ‘Do not be afraid, it is I’; then the abatement—here of the wind, there of the expedition; and the horror of the clueless men. The only difference: from the sea emerges not the breeze but Jesus himself. Jesus himself?

    ‘…they supposed it had been a spirit’—phantasma.

Thus a spirit. And what is the off-shore that which appears in the Caesar story called? Aura. And the fresh breeze? Pneuma. Two words which not only mean air, but hint of a spirit, especially the second one, pneuma.

The only difference in the Caesar and Jesus anecdotes is in the different readings of the words aura and pneuma. Air or spirit. What remains is that Jesus’ spirit walked successfully on water—just as did Caesar’s luck!.

In Appian’s version of Caesar’s anecdote he not only speaks of ‘Caesar’s luck’, but also of ‘Caesar’s demon’,341 which is very close to spirit. In the next paragraph pneuma is used again and after that Postumius, whom Caesar instructed to secretly cross over in his place and bring the army back. We even find the eponym of the ghost: Caesar’s Postumius became the posthumous Jesus; Postumius secretly crossing over the sea became the phantasma walking upon the sea.

Finally, even Antonius’ hesitation has parallels in the Gospels. Antonius eventually obeys Caesar’s repeated calls and ships the rest of the troops and equipment across in an adventurous and dangerous way. Doing so he almost perishes and is forced up to Dalmatia; in the end he fortunately reunites with Caesar. The parallel in the Gospel: the hesitating Peter starting to walk on the water becomes frightened and, beginning to sink, he cries for help until Jesus stretches his hand and catches him: ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Mt. 14:28-31).

Even the landing place—Dalmatia—could be the same, stranded in a disconnected place:

    ‘And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.’

However Dalmanutha does not exist, neither at the Lake of Gennesaret nor anywhere else in the entire region. But Dalmatia looks very much like Dalmanutha. Even though the context in which Dalmanutha is used is different and behind this name, as we will see, another port is hidden. Dalmatia, which here had become homeless, might have moved into Dalmanutha.

But the remarkable fact here is that by comparing the parallel stories of Jesus’ and Caesar’s defiance of the stormy sea, we can also explain small and big incongruities of the Gospel text, for which, to date, no rational explanation has been found.

For example, after forcing his disciples to go aboard and before boarding the ship himself, Jesus not only walks on the sea, but meanwhile he also goes up a mountain to pray (Mk. 6:46). The whole scene takes place at the sea, on the shoreline or on the water at the mouth of the river. Jesus leaves the scene and climbs a mountain, but did not really leave the scene, because then suddenly he is on the sea. This incongruity could easily be explained by the fact that oros, Greek for ‘mountain’, very much resembles ora, Latin for ‘shoreline’, respectively os, oris, ‘mouth (of the river)’..

However, this passage also contains a notorious and even severe case of incongruity within the Gospel. Here Jesus supposedly crossed Lake Gennesaret. Yet the Gospel writers do not speak of a lake, but of the sea. For example, when Jesus calms the storm, ‘He speaks to the sea: be still and cease!’ To the ‘sea’: thalassa. But here it is about an inland lake, a fresh water lake. Therefore the correct word would be limnê,345 but that is not what is written. Only Luke, who tells a shortened version of the incident, uses limnê. There has been no explanation up to today as to why Mark and Matthew systematically and repeatedly use thalassa.

Thalassa only fits in the Caesar story because he crossed over a real sea: the Ionian.

Thus our first test not only highlights the fact that the parallels between Caesar and Jesus are systematic, but also demonstrates that perplexing vocabulary of the Gospel can be explained when traced back to that of the history of Caesar.

However, since the devil is in the details as everyone knows, we now intend to search for well-known details. For instance, the shoe’s latchet of John the Baptist, or the argument between the disciples of John and Jesus as to which of the two is really the Christ. As we saw in the beginning, John the Baptist is structurally related to Jesus as Pompeius is to Caesar. Also, Pompeius was Caesar’s political godfather, baptizing his career in a sense, before he attacked him and lost. So the latchets of Pompeius’ shoes too, should play a role in his argument with Caesar. On the other hand, within the same context there should also be a debate involving him or his disciples as to who is the real ‘Christ’ that is, if the correspondence of christos = pontifex maximus we have worked out is correct: who should become pontifex maximus in Caesar’s place.